AP-NC Newswatch

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October 9, 2018
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October 9, 2018
AP-NC Newswatch





Latest North Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. EDT



Unhealthy uranium, radium levels found in thousands of wells
(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Thousands of people living near North Carolina’s capital city are likely drinking water with “unhealthy levels” of radiological chemicals.
The News & Observer reported Monday that officials estimate up to 6,000 water wells in eastern Wake County exceed the safe drinking-water standards for uranium and radium. Tests on hundreds of private water wells show levels 10 to 20 times higher than the standard.
Those private wells are primarily outside city and town limits and aren’t regularly monitored for the unsafe chemicals, which are odorless, colorless and tasteless.
Long-term exposure to uranium and other radiological chemicals can increase a person’s chance of cancer and high levels of uranium can cause kidney failure.



Court blocks tree removal company after price-gouging claim
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina judge is shutting down a tree-removal company temporarily after the state’s attorney general accused it of price gouging after Hurricane Florence.
Multiple media organizations reported that the state Attorney General’s office secured a preliminary injunction Monday against A1 Tree & Storm Relief of Lexington. That means that business owner Alva Wilson Lewis and his crew cannot remove trees or clear storm damage until the state’s lawsuit against them is settled.
State attorneys said the business had overcharged desperate customers in the Wilmington area after the storm, including tripling an initial quote of $4,000 to remove three trees for one homeowner. A tree expert estimated the value of the work at $6,400 or less.
Lewis denied he was taking advantage of the emergency to hike his prices.




Governor redirects $25M to repair schools hit by Florence
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s governor is taking hold of state lottery profits and sending $25 million to repair schools with immediate needs after damage caused by Hurricane Florence.
Gov. Roy Cooper said Monday he’s acting to speed up repairs, with priority in eight counties hit the hardest. Cooper’s office says seven public school systems remain closed since last month’s storm, keeping nearly 90,000 students out of classrooms in more than 130 schools.
The Associated Press asked Cooper’s office whether he had the authority to redirect the spending of lottery funds. His spokesman pointed to a state law that allows governors to reallocate funds in an emergency if other funds are insufficient.
Cooper’s office says the emergency school repair money will be administered by the state Department of Public Instruction.




Man accused of threatening students charged with child porn
(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)
WAKE FOREST, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina man accused of threatening to shoot students at an elementary school near his home is now accused of possessing child porn.
The News & Observer reports 33-year-old Arthur Vladimir Kochetkov of Wake Forest was charged Monday with sexual exploitation of a minor.
Kochetkov has been held at the Wake County jail since he was charged last month with communicating threats. A warrant says he posted a threat to Facebook that said “he’s done amassed an army big enough to slaughter all your Wake Forest kids in their local playground.”
Officials say the porn found on items seized from Kochetkov’s home doesn’t appear to feature local students.
Kochetkov’s family says he is mentally ill. He’s set to appear in court Tuesday. It’s unclear if he has a lawyer.



N Carolina ag chief makes $300M-plus request on Florence aid
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – North Carolina’s agriculture agency is asking for more than $300 million from the state for the cleanup and recovery from Hurricane Florence, most of which would go as direct payments to farmers who lost crops and livestock.
Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler made the pitch to a legislative committee Monday, a week before the General Assembly is set to reconvene to consider more Florence aid. Lawmakers set aside $50 million to match federal funds during a special session last week.
Most of Troxler’s request – $250 million – would go into a program to pay farmers with uninsured and underinsured crop, livestock and poultry losses. Committee members wanted more details before fully endorsing the idea, especially on recipient qualifications and ensuring taxpayer funds go to people who really need them.




Recovering addicts sue rehab boss for unpaid labor
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – A federal lawsuit says the owners of a North Carolina drug rehab program as well as adult care homes and restaurants owe recovering addicts for unpaid work they performed.
The lawsuit filed by Andrew Presson of Olney, Maryland, and Kimberly Myris of Pinehurst, North Carolina, says they and others in recovery were then worked up to 16 hours a day at for-profit businesses that contracted with Recovery Connections Community for laborers.
Presson and Myris say they didn’t get paid and the residential substance abuse recovery program’s owners pocketed their wages.
Recovery Connections President Jennifer Warren didn’t return a phone message Monday.
The lawsuit filed last week seeks to recoup compensation for all rehab residents put to work by Recovery Connections




Prosecutor seeks review of legislative leader’s legal work
(Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com)
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) – A North Carolina prosecutor has asked investigators to look into concerns about legal work performed by one of the legislature’s top leaders, but House Speaker Tim Moore says he has never mixed that work with his lawmaking duties.
The News & Observer reports that Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman asked the State Bureau of Investigation to look into Moore’s work for developer Neal Hunter’s pharmaceutical company. Previously, Moore’s legislation had rescued a Durham project involving Hunter. Moore was then House rules chairman.
Freeman also asked the SBI to investigate Moore’s private legal work preceding legislation involving bail agents.
Freeman says if the allegations are true, they “seem to suggest a pattern of the use of public position for personal gain.” She says the inquiry isn’t a criminal investigation.



Authorities: Man fires at officers in N Carolina standoff
BETHLEHEM, N.C. (AP) – Authorities say a North Carolina man shot at officers during a standoff.
News outlets report law enforcement responded to a home around 12:00 a.m. Saturday to serve an involuntary commitment order. The commitment papers resulted from an incident where 67-year-old Ralph Walter Aldridge threatened to shoot at a hospital. An Alexander County Sheriff’s Office statement says he also threatened to shoot officers before they arrived on the scene.
Aldridge told officers to come on up to the residence before shooting at them and hitting a patrol car. Officers took cover but eventually fired tear gas and entered the home.
Aldridge surrendered and was charged with offenses, including several counts of attempted murder on law enforcement officers. Firearms and other items were also seized. It’s unclear if Aldridge has a lawyer.



AP-WF-10-09-18 1020GMT